It’s been a long road to travel in such a short time, but in about two weeks del Lago Resort & Casino will open its doors to the public in upstate Tyre, New York. The road to opening was anything but smooth, even before voters passed a constitutional amendment on November 4, 2013, allowing up to seven commercial, Las Vegas-style casinos to open in the state.

On December 17, 2014, the New York Gaming Facility Location Board recommended three of the four licenses allowed to be tendered in the first round of non-lottery based casinos. The constitutional amendment allows for even more commercial casinos, one to be located in Metropolitan New York City. And, after some reconsideration, the board recommended Tioga Downs as a fourth location. The last licensed was the first to open, on December 2, 2016, after the first batch of new Random Number Generator based slot machines began to arrive in October.

Previously known by the working name Lago Casino, the enterprise faced legal opposition from the Oneida Tribe, who also run casinos in the area, along with vocal opposition from a group calling itself “Casino Free Tyre” who gathered over 700 signatures against the venture, and a lawsuit from Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack – one the original nine racinos to oppose Governor Cuomo’s plan leading up to the ballot referendum of 2013.

At one point, in July 2015, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court delivered a technical setback to the Rochester-based casino developers. Construction was ordered halted but within a month some of the challenges were dismissed. In December the NYGC awarded a license and local opposition was quelled by administrative and court actions following a new 3,000-page environmental plan with construction resuming shortly thereafter under a barrage of ‘public relations‘ moves by the Oneida Nation who sensed a threat to their casino monopoly over ten counties in the region.

Through November and December 2015, opposition continued with questionable polling tactics, anti-casino rallies at the Statehouse, and attacks on the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency’s financial assistance package for economic development.

By January 2016 a ‘topping off’ ceremony was held when the highest structural component of the building went up. In March, developers announced the new facility would be named del Lago Resort & Casino. Casino spokespeople announced in late November 2016 that February 1, 2017, was a target opening date and just after New Year’s Day, February 1 was announced officially.

Unlike the video lottery terminals to be found at race tracks in New York, all of the new upstate casinos will feature the same kinds of machines, with the same sort of inner workings, as you will find in Las Vegas. del Lago will offer 2,000 slots and video poker machines like IGT’s GameKing.

Poker players will like the fact that their interests have been registered and the casino now plans to open with 12 poker tables rather than the 10 originally planned.

The table games offering has been bumped a little too so now there will be 77 blackjack, roulette, craps, and other classics and new classics to choose from at the 24-hour casino in Tyre.

Although the hotel is not accepting reservations yet, overnight visitors in the near future can expect to find 205 new luxurious rooms.

The casino’s entertainment center is called Vine and will be able to accommodate up 1,800 thrilled fans. The first show booked is the legendary rock band, Bad Company for February 10 – but, if you don’t already have a ticket you won’t be able to buy one from Vine, the show has already sold out. Bad Company will be followed by Hip Hop artist Flo Rida on Feb 11, redneck comedian Larry the Cable Guy one week later, then Dustin Lynch, Bill Engvall, Bret Michaels, and the comedy troupe, Impractical jokers.

Centrifico is the new gaming floor lounge. Portico by Fabio Viviani is del Lago’s premium Italian steakhouse offering, and the Farmers Market Buffet will feature locally sourced ingredients for farm-to-table freshness.

Although the management company has kept tight wraps on most of the new casino resort’s features, some local media have had the privilege of a ‘sneak peek’.

Newyorkupstate.com is reporting that Savor New York will sell local cheeses and wines along with other Finger Lakes products and that players will be able to order drinks right from their seats by using interactive keypads at the slot machines. Expect your next drink within 7 minutes.  The casino is said to be flooded with natural light during the day and the 90,000 sq ft gaming floor, accoutered in stone and wood has high ceilings, marble columns, and bright chandeliers.

The restrooms are said to be opulently appointed in mosaic patterns with gold embellishments.

As exciting as it was to see Tioga Downs open with Vegas-style gaming, del Lago is the first real new casino set to open Upstate, and it looks like a winner.

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